California fuels Powerball $600 million jackpot: Mega Millions jackpot at $190M

SAN DIEGO - Powerball officials say the jackpot has climbed to an estimated $600 million, making it the largest prize in the game's history and the world's second largest lottery prize.

Lottery officials say the prize is growing quickly Friday because so many people have been purchasing the $2 tickets. The jackpot has grown by an estimated $236 million since the last drawing on Wednesday.

The last jackpot was won on March 30, so it's been growing for about six weeks. The next drawing is Saturday night.

The largest jackpot ever was a $656 million Mega Millions prize won in March 2012. The prize was split three ways with winners in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

Odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are about 1 in 175 million, which means an individual has a better chance of becoming the next president.

In San Diego, excitement is building with more than a half billion dollars up for grabs in two lottery drawings over the weekend. The jackpot prize for Mega Millions is $190 million.

Jennifer Murphy and Kathy Thomas, who work at a 7-Eleven store in Kearny Mesa, told 10News they probably did double the ticket sales on Friday of a regular day in just the first few hours after the machine was fired up.

"It's been a zoo in here," Murphy said. "I said earlier one out of two people, now it's more like nine out of ten people buying tickets."

Between their ability to sell and what is up for grabs, customers seemed to have a hard time turning them down.

"I wasn't going to buy one," a customer told 10News. When asked what made him change his mind he said, "She's convincing."

One expert say there are some steps one can take to improve odds of winning a jackpot.

"Play those same set of numbers, don't ever change them and don't ever miss a draw," said Richard Lustig from WinningLotteryMethod.com.

California has sold $83 million worth of Powerball tickets since it started selling them in April and overall has accounted for 11 percent of the game's sales in the country. Nevadans can't buy tickets in their state, where the lottery is seen as competition to its casino industry.

But they have been flocking to the tiny town of Nipton on the California border. The town's Primm Valley Lotto store is the biggest ticket seller.

Lottery sales manager Randy Forrester told 10News sales exceeded expectations so much so that they underestimated how high the jackpot would jump overnight by $50 million to an all-time high of $600 million.  

"That's unheard of," Forrester said. "You can't project that."

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